Monday, September 30, 2013

A black hole experience


Nasa Black Hole Pictures


God, your thoughts are not my thoughts (Isa. 55:8).

What you have planned for me is beyond all I can ask  or imagine (Eph. 3:19–20).

Yet you have also promised to reveal it to me through your Spirit (1 Cor. 2:8–10).

So I open my heart, mind, and life to more of you—to whatever you have for me.

Where there is ongoing fear in my life, please replace it with faith.

Where there is a desire to hold back, give me the strength to move forward.

Where there is a desert, lead me into the Promised Land you have prepared for me.

I embrace that my part is to pray, plan, and most of all seek you.

And yours is to get me where you want me to go (Prov. 16:9 and 19:21).

Wherever that is, that’s where I want to be too. Because there’s no better place in this world or the next than with you (Ps. 84:10).

Your Kingdom come, your will be done, on earth (especially my little corner of it) as it is in heaven (Matt. 6:10). ( 1)

Since 1987, 75 million souls in Africa have come to salvation through the ministry of CfaN. Evangelist Reinhard Bonnke says God is ready to pour out the same blessing on the United States.

“We have seen God do so many mighty things in Africa,” he says. “But I know that he is the same God, and He will shake America. America shall be saved. America will be saved, and this is the day of salvation.”

Bonnke isn’t na├»ve. He knows well the moral issues that America faces—abortion, same-sex marriage and discouragement, among many. He hears the negativity daily about how America has lost its soul.

But Bonnke isn’t buying it.

“This is not the day of damnation; this is the day of salvation,” he says. “Do you know what Satan hates about us as human beings? He hates the image of God in us. He wants to remove it and replace it with his own image. He’s got a big sledgehammer, and he tries to flatten the Spirit of God. So many people suffer under those hammerings of sin, and they don’t know how to help themselves.

“Drug addiction, alcoholism, immorality—it’s blow after blow after blow until the image of God is almost gone. But Jesus intercepted that hammer for us. He stops the devil if we seek refuge in Him. He will deliver you from bondages, compulsions, fears and tears ... only Jesus saves.”

CfaN President and CEO Daniel Kolenda says there is only one thing that can remove the spiritual darkness that has engulfed America.

“The United States will be saved only through a massive outpouring of the Holy Spirt,” he says. “I see the seeds of a movement of evangelism and the Holy Spirit that will sweep across the nation from sea to shining sea. Our nation is in desperate need of revival. The solution won’t come from the White House, and it won’t be fixed through the polls. It will only come from Jesus.”

And Bonnke unashamedly has a word for so-called “Sunday Christians” and backsliders.

“I don’t know why they always have to slide away from Jesus,” he says. “They cheat like the world, tell foul jokes just like the world—everything just like the world. I have a question for them: Why can’t you slide away from the devil? Jesus’ arms are wide open, and He’s ready to save you now.”

So be prepared, get set, go.......

"As I was with Moses, so I will be with you; I will never leave you nor forsake you" (Joshua 1:5b).

A black hole is a place of total nothingness. It's a time in our life when God removes the resources and supports that we normally rely on to feel secure - our careers, finances, friends, family, health and so forth. It is a preparation time.

When you find yourself in a black hole experience, don't just sit and brood. Take stock of your life. Take a look at your relationship with God.

First, ask God if there are any sins, habits, or attitudes that He might be judging in your life. It's important to discern whether the trial we face is the result of God's discipline for our sin?or if it is preparing us for a future leadership role.

Second, when you enter a black hole, don't trust your feelings. Trust God. Your feelings will tell you, "God has rejected you. Abandon hope. He has left you utterly alone." Feelings change; God never changes. Feelings come and go; God is always with us.

Third, remember that your black hole experience is not only intended to refine and define you; it's also intended to influence and change the lives of hundreds or even thousands of other people. Our adversity is not just for us, but others in our sphere of influence.

Fourth, don't try to hurry the black hole process along. Remember, when Joseph was in the depths of the pit, there was nothing he could do about it. He couldn't climb out, jump out, levitate out, or talk his way out. All he could do was pray and wait upon the Lord.

Fifth, lean on God. Even when you don't feel like praying, pray. Even when you don't feel like reading His Word, read. Even when you don't feel like singing songs of faith, sing. When you pray, don't just talk; listen. Be silent before Him and listen for His still, quiet voice.

Sixth, be alert to new truths and new perspectives. During a black hole experience, God often leads us to amazing new discoveries. A black hole can be a storehouse of unexpected riches for the soul. (2)

Notes:

(1) Holly Gerth, Opening the Door to Your God-sized Dream

(2) Os Hillman, Today God Is First Volume 2, Deliverance from the Black Hole,
                  
            
Blessings,

Raj Kosaraju

People will have an itch for novelty



"If we are true Christians, we must not expect everything smooth in our journey to heaven. We must count it no strange thing, if we have to endure sicknesses, losses, bereavements, and disappointments, just like other people. Free pardon and full forgiveness, grace by the way and glory to the end – all this our Savior has promised to give. But He has never promised that we shall have no afflictions. He loves us too well to promise that." ~ J.C. Ryle

For behold, I create new heavens and a new earth; and the former things will not be remembered or come to mind. But be glad and rejoice forever in what I create; for behold, I create Jerusalem for rejoicing and her people for gladness. I will also rejoice in Jerusalem and be glad in My people; and there will no longer be heard in her the voice of weeping and the sound of crying. (Isaiah 65:17-19)

Things will one day be the way they were before the Fall!

God said the same thing to Isaiah as He said later to the Apostle John in greater detail: “Behold, I am making all things new” and “there will no longer be any curse” (see Revelation 21:5 and 22:3).

The world will no longer be a place of grieving, pain and tears. Instead it will be a place to “be glad and rejoice forever”. Everything about life in that day will bring joy, happiness and peace. Things will be the way God designed them to be in the first place, before the sin of the first man and woman brought brokenness and fallenness into every facet of life.

Today God is encouraging us to look into the future. Our hope is not in this world and this life. God will destroy this fallen world one day and create a new heaven and a new earth, where things are right. I can’t wait!

Meanwhile....

Our Father may ask us to do something that seems illogical—perhaps to accept more responsibility when we were hoping to reduce our workload, to leave a position that He provided just recently, or to take on an assignment for which we feel ill-equipped. His plan might feel unrealistic in view of our age, stage of life, or health concerns. We must press forward in obedience, regardless of how impractical the request may appear.

What I'm talking about then, are instances of heavenly intervention in the lives of believers that impact what we would consider "minor" areas of our existence, the things that cause us to make statements like: "It showed me that God cares about even the small things in our lives," always as if that's a profoundly shocking proclamation. Nobody ever responds by saying, "Well, duh…"

I think that's because it never stops being a mind-blowing concept - the Creator of the universe, who hears the prayers and praises of billions simultaneously and loves each one the same, provided, perhaps, just the right amount of money for a struggling single mom to buy her child a pair of shoes. It's not the parting of the Red Sea to preserve for Himself a people, or the resurrection of His son to purchase the redemption of humanity. It's, for lack of a better term, a mini-miracle.

A sign of the end times will be people turning from the truth: “For a time is coming when people will no longer listen to sound and wholesome teaching. They will follow their own desires and will look for teachers who will tell them whatever their itching ears want to hear. They will reject the truth and chase after myths” (2 Timothy 4:3–4).

Friend, that time has come. This is not just happening in our culture. It is even taking place in some of our churches where people are looking for teachers who will say things that will satisfy them. What the apostle Paul was saying in 2 Timothy 4 was that people will have an itch for novelty. They will want someone to come along who will say something that will soothe them and pacify them—but not something that will challenge them or, even worse, confront them.

This turning away from the truth is something the Bible said would happen in the end times. As preachers of the Word, we have a job to do: it is to preach the Word and not compromise on it, even if it isn’t politically correct.

Remember...

The devil is on the attack.

Every morning as soon as you wake up the enemy is there to tempt you, discourage you, and he will do everything to make you feel weak, grumpy, and lonely.

He'll remind you of all the regrets, fears, and guilt.

When you look at the image in the mirror, the enemy will emphasize every wrinkle in your face, your failing health, and how you are aging fast.

That's how the devil works every single day.

He takes no break. No holidays. No vacations. No time outs.

Also we need to remember that  every opportunity is not sent from God. We may want something so much that we assume any opportunity to obtain it is of divine origin. An opportunity to do something against God's will can never be from God because God does not tempt us. When opportunities come your way, double-check your motives. Make sure you are following God's desires, and not just your own. Rather than trying to find God's will after the fact or having to ask God to undo the results of our hasty decisions, we should take time to discern God's will beforehand. We can hear him speak through the counsel of others, his Word, and the leading of his Spirit in our hearts, as well as through circumstances.

What does God want us to do until He returns? As Christians we are called to serve Him willingly and obediently to whatever He calls us to do. We are to witness to those who do not follow Christ, lovingly warn them of the coming judgment and joyfully share of God's love and plan of salvation. We are to equip and encourage our fellow believers so that they may also go forth and further God's kingdom.

What will you do with the opportunities that God has given you? Will you turn your back on them? Or will you joyfully give back to God in tithes, offerings, service, and praise to Him? We cannot out-give God. Whatever rewards we receive in this life are infinitesimal compared to what we will receive in the glory of heaven.

Blessings,

Raj Kosaraju

Sunday, September 29, 2013

The world in which we live is ‘decaying.’



Many people in our world feel that way. They have been burned in their relationships, so they pull in and break off relations altogether. What a shame. If we cut ourselves off from others, then we deprive ourselves of a lot of wonderful experiences. This is why God places such emphasis on forgiveness. If we will learn to forgive others when they wrong us, then we can remain open to the possibility of relationships in which we won't be disappointed. If we have no forgiveness, then we will miss out on the blessings of good relationships. Ask God for the ability to forgive, and He will bless your life.

Looking back in the Bible, there were many men and women who came to a point in their lives where they thought life was over, only later to discover it was merely an intermission. Elijah hid in a cave thinking his ministry was over; Moses herded sheep in the desert believing his dream to rescue the Hebrews was dashed; Jonah camped out under a shade plant and waited to die. Each of these men thought it was the end, but in reality, it was only an intermission. God wasn’t finished with the story of their lives quite yet.

I don’t know what you’re facing today. Perhaps your life has taken you to an unexpected place. Perhaps, like Moses, you’ve made a poor decision that resulted in you running from God and from man. Perhaps like Elijah, you’ve allowed someone’s threats to put fear in your heart, and you’re in hiding.  Perhaps like Jonah, you’ve obeyed God, but feel duped because your obedience didn’t bring the results you’d hoped for. With your dreams burning in the background, perhaps you’ve stood on the hillside with fist raised in the air making declarations to God.

Sometimes in life, God makes our walls fall down. Because it is only when we lose hope in our trusted physical and material defenses that we truly learn to trust in God.

What are the great walls in your life? Are they people whom you depend upon? Is it money in the bank? Is it a strong army or a good president? None of these are capable of protecting us or are worthy of our trust. Let us remember that it is God Who fights our battles and it is He Who gives us shelter – now and forevermore.

We can use whatever circumstances we are given as opportunities to grow and thrive, or we can let our circumstances get the best of us and beat us into defeat. In life, success doesn’t necessarily go to the one who is most talented, brilliant, or savvy – it goes to the one who chooses to follow the path of blessings.

Friends, no matter what situation you find yourself in today, know beyond the shadow of doubt that it is one in which you can thrive. All you need to do is make that choice. Cling to God and to His Word and choose life’s blessings!

Try this exercise: think of a time when you received some "bad" news that ended up in the long run being good or even the best news? Can you think of anyone who lost a job only to find a much better one? Or someone who has gone through a painful, broken relationship, only to find a more healthy and loving one later on? Ultimately, were they not thankful for the changes that they had to make?

We won't always be able to understand how bad things can be good for us because we don't always know what God intends for us. But we can know deep in our hearts that God wants what is best for us so we can serve Him better. Knowing that everything in our lives is a part of God's plan helps us celebrate the good with the bad.

Wait a minute....hold your thoughts...

If you had to choose one word to describe our world today, what would it be? Wonderful? Tragic? Beautiful? Dreadful? While each of these might describe our world in part, I think the best overall description of the world in which we live is ‘decaying.’

In a decaying world, you can have elements of both good and bad. That delicious steak in your refrigerator is decaying. Now that doesn’t make it automatically inedible, but it is actively spoiling. And if left to its own, it will turn rotten.

Our world is in the process of turning rotten. Morally… spiritually… and physically, it’s slowly dying and will one day be no more. But as believers, God calls us to be salt, a preservative that is added to stave off decay and preserve life. That’s the role of the Christian here on this planet!

Actually the only faith that can guide us into the future is a faith in God. It should not surprise us too much if our best efforts at straightening out the world we live in are only partially successful. Nor should our failures stop us from trying. But each new crisis, each new problem reminds us that the only effective solution to mankind's problem is the Bible one. Until every man on the earth is a changed person, relating correctly to God and his other fellow earthlings, the world cannot really expect to experience perfection. But the day will come when this most improbable event will occur. Not all will submit to the changing process, but only those who do will remain to live in this purified, glorified earth.

God says He will make the earth new. Right now the best He can do is make individuals new. And He does this through Jesus Christ. Why not let Him do it for you today?

As a believer in Jesus Christ, you have a unique role of a preservative in the world. Morally you do that by following the precepts of God. Spiritually it happens by sharing Christ with the lost. And physically the world is preserved when you care for God’s creation. Be salt and help preserve life in our decaying and dying world!

Blessings,

Raj Kosaraju


Saturday, September 28, 2013

Live for Him




God is reminding you today that if you want to live for Him, you must live with Jesus. Take quality time with Jesus every day. Talk to Him honestly about the joys and frustrations of life. Ask Him to reveal to you what He is doing in your life, how He wants to use you today, then commit yourself to moving with His purpose. Relational time with Jesus every day will revolutionise your Christian life!

Hearing the voice of God means that you have taken the first step on the road of faith that is going to be rough and crooked and up and down. Hearing the voice of God for the first time often brings confusion and conviction.

It also brings doubt. I guess the first reaction as I faced the new day was, "Did this really happen to me?" Perhaps I dreamed it, or maybe it was just a wild thought that floated through my imagination. I just couldn't acknowledge the words that I had heard as my words. They didn't say what I would say. They were contrary to what I believed.

It is possible that the man would show a great achievement and capacity. It is also possible that he might have a tremendous knowledge and information too. But it is still a possibility that he might be totally ignorant about himself. The reason being that until the man suffers a great deal, he does not understand. Suffering makes him introspective. And suffering alone teaches him the truth."Bible says, "Suffering makes man perfect."It is very easy to blame the system and others for any wrong and ill in it. It is very easy and convenient to say, "what shall I do? The system is rotten. One can’t help!"The most un-easy and offending statement in the Bible is that everybody is a sinner. It cannot be agreed upon for the simple reason that we generally measure ourselves against those who are falling short of our own ideals. We ourselves decide in a reflex manner the measurement criteria. And those generally are selected which suit us. Our spouse, our friends and colleagues, know our own moral weakness. When we ourselves acknowledge them, that is the beginning of self-realization.

However if you suddenly find a lump in your breast, or your spouse says he never loved you, or you get fired from your job, or your child is seriously ill, every tactic you've ever employed and every skill you've ever mastered will get you nowhere...The Bible says, "...Have a sane estimate of your [abilities]..." (Romans 12:3 PHPS)...once you realise you aren't perfect...you can exhale and start the task of being good enough...God is saying here, “If you will repent of your sin, I will repent of the judgment I had planned.” That is a promise to every one of us today. Just because you may have failed in the past doesn’t mean that God is finished with you. Are you ready for some good news on the threshold of a new year?  You can have a brand new start!  There’s hope for you. Our God is the God of the second chance. Your life may be marred. Your life may have gotten off track because of some hidden sin or some stubbornness when you refused to yield to God.  But He is saying , “I don’t hold grudges. I am the God of the second chance.”

Life is growth. It is about hard work and change, yet the end result is beautiful. Though growth and change, however, are not easy. This is what so many people resist. This is what so many of us fail to choose every minute of every day. We have a choice to make – we can work on ourselves, correct our faults, improve our virtues, adapt, change, develop, and grow. That is choosing life. Or we can choose the easier mode of stagnation, the comfort of staying inside our comfort zone, or not doing the hard work to make our dreams a reality. This is what we call death. No movement, no growth, and no change.

Sadly, so many people get to the end of their lives and realize that they never really lived. They never took any risks or rocked the boat too much. They never followed their dreams or spent enough time with their loved ones. This is why Scripture needs to come along and encourage us to choose life. It’s so much easier to pass up that choice and to simply maintain the status quo. However, easier is not better. The only life worth living is the one that is truly lived.

In closing, I would like to remind you to....

Serve God but don't expect it to be a ticket to wealth, success, or health. God does not promise to protect good people from evil in this world, but he does promise that ultimately all evil will be abolished. Those who have remained faithful through their trials will experience great rewards in the age to come (Matthew 5:11-12; Revelation 21:1-7; 22:1-21).

Blessings,

Raj Kosaraju


Friday, September 27, 2013

Actions have consequences




Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship. 2 Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will. (Romans 12)

Max Lucado quite rightly says: if you engage in sexual activity outside your marriage, you’ll bring more pain into the life of your child than anything in this world.

Mom, would you force your children to sleep outside on a cold night?  By no means. Yet if you involve yourself in an affair, you’ll bring more darkness and chill into the lives of your children than a hundred winters. No one can deny the relentless pain brought on by enduring the consequences of wrong actions. It may be as quick and simple as the sting following a swat from a parent's paddle or as lingering and severe as a prison sentence. Either one, however, is hard to bear. The person who cheats on a mate and later leaves the marriage must ultimately endure the consequences. The child who runs away from home in a fit of rebellious rage must live with the painful ramifications.

Actions have consequences. Make this your rule of thumb:  Do what pleases God!  Your classmates showed you a way to cheat, the internet provides pornography to watch—ask yourself the question, “How can I please God?” Psalm 4:5 says, “Do what is right as a sacrifice to the Lord and trust the Lord.”  You will never go wrong doing what is right!

Gwen Smith in her devotional "when God Does a New Thing" says, God is all about beautiful transformations. He is an active, deeply personal, infinitely caring God who restores us on a heart level with a makeover of a masterful kind. When we turn to Him in repentance, He takes the broken, stained areas of our lives away and replaces our mess with a beauty that is far beyond ourselves – the beauty of Christ.
                                              
The Bible has a great deal to say about what happens when we turn to God:

“Those who look to him are radiant; they are never covered in shame.” Psalm 34:5

“Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past. See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland.” Isaiah 43:18-19

“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!” 2 Corinthians 5:17

Listen, friend, I am living proof of the scandalous nature of God’s grace… of His willingness to forgive and restore ugly, tattered heart places. I don’t write from a platform of perfection, but from a foundation of grace that was finished and established by the blood of Jesus Christ.

He came so that you and I could live beyond our pasts – beyond our disappointments – beyond our biggest mistakes and our deepest pains. He came so we could be forgiven and made new. So we could have abundant life.

Full. Life.

I don’t know where this finds you right now, but God surely does. He knows and sees everything – and still His love remains.

We all have brokenness that needs fixing and stains that need to be cleaned. We all need a makeover! The good news of the Gospel is simple: when we call out to God and seek His heart and forgiveness through Jesus Christ, He does a new thing! He meets us with mercy, forgives us completely, blesses us with grace and does a masterful, life-changing work of transformation.

We all want to be a living demonstration of the fact that the will of God is "good and acceptable and perfect." In order to do that, we must have our minds transformed and renewed. In order to have our minds transformed and renewed, we must make our bodies "a living sacrifice" to God. We all want the will of God in our lives. We can experience it if we present ourselves as a living sacrifice to Him.

And notice how, when writing about his life, the apostle chose words descriptive of a battle. He understood the human struggle against sin as well as the challenges of pain and persecution in the trials we all face--even in doing kingdom work like preaching Christ to a fiercely resistant society.

This godly servant's life was also marked by surrender. His mindset is obvious in these words: "present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship" (Rom. 12:1). He was not afraid of Nero, nor was he struggling to stay alive. Paul trusted God to determine everything about his life, including where he would go, what he would do, and when he would die. Death did not scare him, because he knew he would dwell with Jesus forever.

God doesn't require our lives to be perfect in order to finish strong. We can live life fully and be ready to meet our Maker by surrendering, walking victoriously with Christ, and serving others. If Jesus called you home today, would you--like Paul--be confident that you lived well until the end?

Exodus 13:21 says this:

“When the love of God is discussed, we often speak of his love being incomparable, for it is like no other.  God’s love for his people in Christ is eternal (Ephesians 1:4), primary and initiatory (I John 4:9-10), supremely sacrificial (Romans 5:8), unconquerable (Romans 8:28-32), and immeasurable (Psalm 57:10).  God’s love as described in Scripture is in contrast to man’s weak and sin-choked love, and thus is without equal or even close rival. Yet within God’s incomparable love, the Scriptures make distinctions regarding God’s affection for objects of that love.  He does love certain entities more than others.

Blessings,

Raj Kosaraju